A Brief Introspection on Blogging,

I can’t say I have not been writing. I have but not for this blog. Didn’t even invite a guest writer in the meantime – if I can’t write for my own blog, why should anyone else? The problem is not that I don’t have anything to say. It’s just that I have been thinking a lot about what this blog stands for.

This blog started because I liked to write. I had found a small audience. I wrote for them, I wrote for myself. It was an easy way to escape. Though now that I look back I can’t tell what exactly I was trying to escape. Many of my posts weren’t properly edited. After revising the same piece about fifteen to twenty times you become blind to errors, especially the most stupid ones. But that didn’t matter, those who read still read and most of them even liked it despite all the mistakes. Some of them have been corrected. Some are still there waiting to be corrected or maybe, most probably, it doesn’t even matter now. I think those flaws have become the characteristics of those writings.

There was nobody to impress, there was no “target audience”, there was no motivation to be “good”, I hadn’t started this blog to have an “online presence”, I started this blog because blogging was fun, my writing was being read by people all across the world. I had no clue how they had ended up here but they did, and some despite being from different countries, different continents related to what I had to say.

What did I have to say?

Theories? Manifestos? Propaganda? I am not that smart to call out on those kinds of bullshit. I talked about lonely parks and lonely nights. I talked about cemeteries and dumb advertisements. Head to Holland, Beer to Bees, there wasn’t a connection, except they were all written by me.

But during those days, Writing was a hobby. Now, it’s much more than that. I thought this blog should show that change. But how? I wondered. Several months have passed. I still don’t know.

I started this blog because through this I could say whatever I wanted to say. Somehow it wasn’t much of a concern that this was the internet. INTERNET. This was PUBLIC. It was stupid. It was lame. It was bold. It was fearless. It didn’t matter if this was about nothing and everything. It was okay and it was still important that I say something.

It’s been a long journey and I have lost that freedom along the way. Freedom to be stupid again. Suddenly, nothing is good enough to be here. Good enough? Good enough? Who is saying this to whom? Who is passing this judgment? Especially here? This was my space. This is where I grew. This IS my space. My old self has been invaded by the new me and today I sit here thinking of her…In doing so, I am about to do what she would have done – Publish this random musing. Who cares? This is our blog, isn’t it?

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Should you get a Pixie Cut?

He held his scissors and the comb in the other hand and asked, “Are you ready?”

“Are you sure?” my hairdresser had asked me. This was five months ago. It was a different hair salon. My hairdresser was a trainee (read cheap haircut). My hair was almost waist length.
“Yes, actually, I want it shorter.”
“This much?” She held her fingers close to my neck.
Shorter, I had wanted to say. Like really short. But her fear was contagious. I dropped the idea and nodded yes.
“Are you sure?” she asked again.
“Yes,” I said calmly.

I had loved them once, my long hair. I used to try different hairstyles. I learnt many braiding techniques. I coloured my hair. My hair was a dream. I had sported a bob cut for most of my childhood. “Why wouldn’t you let me grow my hair?” I would ask my mother.
“You are too young for long hair.”
I was more feminine when I was a child. I wanted lipstick and nail polish. I wanted to wear saree and salwar-kameez with dupatta. I wanted bangles and earrings. But when I grew up puberty convinced me that I was ugly and no amount of cosmetics and elegant clothing could save me – in fact, it was probable that they might end up making me look uglier.

“Yeah, I am ready,” I told Frank. I wouldn’t have been there otherwise.

This was huge. There must be a piece of dramatic classical music in the background. They were playing Shotgun again. It takes courage to do something like this – one of my friends had later commented. It doesn’t take courage. I just had to turn up at a hair salon and say the two golden words, “Pixie Cut.”

Khach.Khach.Khach.

I wasn’t sure if short hair was going to suit me. But certainly, it was bound to make me look different.

Khach. Khach. Khach.

“SO, how long had you been planning this?” Frank tried to re-initiate our conversation.
“A year.”
“Well, that’s a long time…”

“What if it looks absolutely horrendous?” I had asked myself standing in front of the mirror a day before.
“Certainly we wouldn’t know unless we try,” the mirror replied.
“I don’t have the face or personality to carry short hair,” I argued.
“Are you sure?”

No mirror had been so encouraging before. It had taken me a year and an entirely different country to find one.

Khach.

Frank was already working on the last section at the front. Small pieces were falling on my forehead. They were itchy. I had closed my eyes, though I wanted to sneak a peek.

“Do you like it?” Frank asked me finally, holding my chair from the back.
“I love it,” I said looking at the mirror.

I didn’t know for sure if it was the best hairstyle for me. But it was so different that I didn’t care.  I wanted to stare at the mirror and part my hair in different ways – see what looked best but I felt too shy to do it. I stepped outside, felt the wind blowing my ultra short hair. I smiled appreciating the fact that they were not all over my face. Maybe I was just imagining it but more people were looking at me that day. I looked right back. So I did have a personality for a pixie cut all this while, I suppose.

It’s been three days. I have been touching my hair 72 hours straight. There’s heaven over my head. I have admired how surprised people have been. Some of them hate it but most don’t. I don’t. And my advice to you, if you want to get a pixie cut too, would be – Just do it. There might be some criticism. You might draw some attention. You might be a center for debate for a while. Tell them it’s just hair really – we ought to talk about better things than some dead cells growing on your head. Period.

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Featured Image Courtesy: myhoustondaily.com

When in Rome,

“To the girl sitting at the stairs,
You are a fucking goddess.”
~Anonymous


Gatwick Airport, London. A woman dressed in black was yelling at someone on her phone in Italian. I could filter out the swear words. And it appeared so could the little Spanish girl standing behind me in the check-in queue. ‘She just swore again!’ we told each other and giggled in our collective imagination. Yes, I am still eight that way.

The woman in black turned to me suddenly and said, ‘My flight got cancelled.’

‘The flight is cancelled’ is what I heard and I was jolted with a horrible flashback. No, not again, please.

The last time I had travelled internationally, I was stranded at the airport for three days. When I finally arrived at my destination, after a long struggle, the airline had misplaced my baggage and I had reached my university stinking quite literally and metaphorically with the world’s worst travel experience, the tale I would tell everyone I would meet and still do.

‘I understand sister. I understand’, I thought as I feared how I might be swearing soon too. She turned and started speaking on the phone again. Her frustration was palpable. When she finally hung up, I tried to console, ‘I got stranded in the airport once. I know how you feel.’
‘Oh, thank you. It’s horrible…My flight was yesterday and it got cancelled. This airline is the worst! The hotel room they gave me was in Brighton!’ she replied in thick Italian accent.
‘Brighton?’
‘Yes! Do you know how far it is! I have been here since yesterday.’
‘But today’s flight isn’t cancelled, right?’
‘Yes, hopefully.’
I was relieved. Her phone rang and our conversation ended.

What began as a casual remark about a book, soon became a discussion about reading, writing, parenting, politics, trade unions, love, grief and depression with a middle-aged man from Dublin named Patrick, who sat beside me waiting for the boarding gate to open, silently reading until I interrupted, ‘Kane and Abel, I love that book.’  Soon we parted ways and I found myself sitting in the plane. I had a window seat and when the plane approached Rome about an hour later I got to enjoy the aerial view of the city. The turquoise ocean, the islands, the beach, the boats, white trails behind them and the colourful small little buildings, all kissed by the sun that was caressing my face too. It was breathtaking.

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The immigration line was long. I was listening to a techno playlist and watching people around me. Most of them were Asians. I am an Asian too, I reminded myself. An hour passed slugging through the queue. The immigration officer looked at me, looked at my passport, scanned it, stamped it, I offered a weak smile, he offered none and I was in Rome. I found my way to the metro station. A friendly woman, blonde and pretty, who was also the ticket checker, guided me to the correct train. Half an hour later, I reached in the middle of nowhere.

It wasn’t supposed to be nowhere, it was supposed to be the city center. I stepped outside the station and all I could see were old, plastered, slightly vandalised Roman buildings. And they scared me back into the station.
I checked my phone, restarted it, restarted it again and still it caught no signal. I had thought UK SIM worked in all of Europe. But apparently, not in Rome.

I waited for my friend hoping that he would miraculously appear through the gates I sat facing. I knew he wouldn’t. That place just didn’t seem a right place to be and my instinct told me that he must be looking for me somewhere else.

I got hopeful when I found the station’s wifi signal. But sadly that was a hoax.
‘Ye ceiling dekho na, kitni sundar hai,’ a lady walked by admiring the interior design along with her husband. Definitely Indian. I thought and wondered asking them for help but settled for asking the man at the info point instead. After all, guys at the info points are helpful, right?
Apparently, not in Rome.

‘Excuse me, umm…I can’t connect to the wifi and..’
‘Yeah, there’s no wifi.’ he said.
‘Oh, okay. So I have a problem. I can’t find any signal on my phone. And I need to call a friend. It’s very important-’
‘I can’t help you.’
I stared at him, unable to believe what he had just said.

I braved to step outside again. I was sure I was at the wrong end of the station. I turned right and stepped further into oblivion. I expected Rome to be crowded but I couldn’t find a single soul – just distant traffics sounds, abandoned scooter under the bridge and bright yellow street lights.

‘I don’t want to be mugged. I don’t want to be raped. I don’t want to be murdered.’

Fortunately, I found a person who looked like the kind who wouldn’t commit any of the above.
‘Excuse me what’s the way to the central station?’ I asked him. I wasn’t surprised to find that I was heading in the exact opposite direction. I made a U-turn, passed the exit I had stepped out of half an hour ago, continued walking ahead. More and more people came into sight. I felt more and more relieved. And there it was, my destination – the Central station, in all its grandness and glory, holding my joyous and grateful heart. But it wasn’t to last long.

I looked around for my friend for a while. Several minutes passed by. I was panicking again. Suddenly, I caught his glimpse. ‘He trimmed his hair’ I wondered. And in a flash, he was gone. I ran to the place where he stood but he was nowhere to be seen. Did I just dream him?

Behind me stood a bored looking janitor. ‘Excuse me, I-’ He flicked his hands indicating that I go away. At least the guy at the info point SAID he couldn’t help.

Janitor’s rudeness paralyzed me. Did that just happen? Did he actually do that? I took a few deep breaths. ‘I am asking wrong people,’ I concluded. I looked around. There were many people but none of them seemed to be the right one.

Sitting in the middle of the stairs, her rucksack to her left, was this young woman with long black hair smiling at her phone.

It was love at first sight.

I went and as politely as I could, explained my situation and asked her for help.
‘I don’t have enough balance to make a call. But I can call through WhatsApp,’ she replied.
‘That would work, yes! Thank you!’
I sat beside her, told her the number, watched her saving it the wrong way – without inserting the country code. I knew what she was going to tell me in a while – ‘I am sorry. He is not on WhatsApp.’
‘Umm…can I..can I take your phone and try to call him, just once? I am sorry I am bothering you but this is really important.’

‘No’, I had once told a little boy when I was waiting for a friend at Dadar station, back in Mumbai an year ago. He had come to me and asked, ‘Didi, mujhe meri behen nahi mil rahi. Aap phone doge call karne ke liye?’ I looked at the child wondering if he wanted to steal my phone.‘Vo police mein hai. Ye hai uski photo.’ The child showed me a photograph of a girl in a police uniform claiming that she was his elder sister. Definitely a scam.‘Jaao, jaao.’ I had asked him to leave.

She took a second but she said yes.
I took her phone. I saved his number the correct way. I called him praying he would pick up. He did. I told him where I was. I saw him holding the phone, talking to me, a couple of seconds later. ‘I can see you. Just stay right there!’ I said and hung up. I gave the phone back to the girl, thanked her profusely, hugged her, thanked her again and ran towards him.

Welcome to Rome.

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“May you ask bored looking people for help.”
~A Chinese Curse

My new hobby

Is to think about you,
I search for the tiniest of our memories
in the remotest corners of my heart
stringing them along in
a new narrative
every day
every night
like a mini theater in my head,
I watch the same films,
same characters,
same scenes,
reach the same conclusion.

My new hobby
is to have imaginary conversations with you,
even though mostly,
in reality,
you spoke too much
and I didn’t at all
but now I say it all;
your part
my part –
things we would have never said
things we would have never done,
You are so painfully interesting in my imagination
I long
and I long
wishing that you are near and real,
tangible,
lovable,
knowing perfectly that if you are with me
all your imperfections are real too.

My new hobby
is to idealize you
and then to wonder how you aren’t ideal in fact,
my new hobby
is to clutch your memories close to my heart
where no one can steal them,
my new hobby
is to wonder
whether to tell
or not to tell;
What even?
Why even?
How even?
Rather be insane
with my mental conversations
and everyday retinal movie screenings
than to awkwardly reveal my secrets to you,
What to do?
What to even expect?
I am scared that in the end, you will only judge and reject.

Nevermind though,
You are and you will still be in my thoughts.
Silent suffering,
Mysterious rejoice,
It seems that’s my new hobby.

A late night thought

Hope is that someday it would make sense
Or maybe we’d to learn to accept the senselessness
Hope is that someday we would find order in the chaos
Or maybe we’d learn to deal with the high entropy
What, when, why, how
There’s no ignoring
There’s no escaping
Things happen;
Painful ones, joyful ones,
People happen;
Interesting ones, awful ones,
Who’s wrong?
Who’s right?
We are, in the end, just lines oriented at a random angle –
Converging, intersecting, diverging,
Maybe we make sense from a plane above,
Maybe our experiences together are infinite hues splashed over a vast canvas,
Maybe, maybe there’s a reason
Maybe, maybe there’s an answer
Hope is that someday our beautiful mind would find beauty of his own;
Hope is that till then, he wouldn’t give up hope over fears unknown.

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Bonjour

My eyes flick open again,
Just as the sun wakes up,
Just when the moon falls asleep,
Too cold to step outside the blanket
Too late not to.
I gaze outside, tad bit drowsy,
tad bit curious,
tad bit joyous,
tad bit furious.
The buildings display quite an opposite effect of sunlight on them,
Reverse tanning, to be precise,
I can’t possibly count the shades of green I see,
I can’t possibly count the kinds of flowers,
The kinds of bees,
The kinds of buzz,
The kinds of me.
What’s wrong?
It’s too early.
So what?
I can’t sleep.
How come?
I can’t sleep.
What’d you do?
I can’t sleep.
Why’s that?
Maybe,
Maybe these days I am dreaming with my eyes wide open.

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